The global "hacktivist" network Anonymous has released a video stating that NASA is on the verge of announcing a major alien discovery and that many claim humanity is already in contact with intelligent extraterrestrials.
While the start of Anonymous' video is rooted in some semblance of reality, it quickly diverges into fantasy and loses itself to an orgy of conspiracy theories and bizarre UFO visuals. For an organization that has made its name revealing government corruption and carrying out cyberwarfare campaigns against groups it perceives as threats to global well-being, feeding alien conspiracy theories seems to come a little out of left field. But the world is obviously paying attention, and this thing is spreading like an internet wildfire.
So, What Is Anonymous Claiming?
That's the masked Anonymous spokesperson speaking at the start of the group's video released on June 20.
This first point is a bit of an exaggeration, though it is rooted in fact. A NASA spokesperson – Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate – really did say something along those lines during the "Advances in the Search for Life" hearing on April 26 – though he wasn't quite so blunt.
"With all this activity related to the search for life in so many different areas, we are on the verge of one of the most profound discoveries ever," Zurbuchen said, when concluding his statement during the hearing.
Zurbuchen has every reason to be optimistic about the possibility of finding evidence of extraterrestrial biology over the coming years, but he certainly wasn't saying that an alien discovery announcement was imminent. You can watch the whole of his statement here, starting at 39 minutes and 20 seconds.
During his statement, Zurbuchen detailed the recent findings by NASA's Cassini mission that had detected plumes of hydrogen venting from Saturn moon Enceladus' subsurface ocean. Also, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope detected water plumes around Jupiter's moon Europa at around the same time. Both moons are known to possess vast oceans of liquid water protected under thick shells of ice. Enceladus and Europa appear to have all the components for life – liquid water, an energy source and nutrients – so there's reason to be excited about the possibilities of life elsewhere in the solar system.
"Both discoveries show the potential of life-enabling energy sources hidden in oceans away from our view, beyond the icy crust and a confirmation that will be very significant for this science," he added during the hearing.
But that's not all. NASA is currently readying its Mars 2020 rover mission that will directly look for signs of past life on the red planet's surface. This next-generation Curiosity-like rover will feature advanced spectrometers and imaging instrumentation and will have the capability to "cache" rocky samples for a future sample return mission. There's also the planned Europa Clipper mission that will be launched to Jupiter to fly by the moon and carry out a detailed reconnaissance of its plumes and icy surface, possibly revealing chemicals that may be linked to the presence of alien biology in its ocean.
Beyond the solar system, NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes are revealing thousands of new extrasolar planets (or exoplanets) that may, one day, provide observational evidence for extraterrestrial life. "A transformation of understanding is taking place regarding planets around other stars," Zurbuchen explained.
Sadly, No Aliens. Yet.
As exciting as all these incredible advances in space science are, there's nothing to suggest that any NASA mission is about to discover extraterrestrial life.
"There are many who claim that mankind has already made contact with aliens and not just microorganisms floating around inside a massive alien ocean, but advanced spacefaring civilizations," the Anonymous video continues, segueing dramatically from NASA science into UFO Conspiracy Ville.
Anonymous goes on to discuss declassified FBI documents that apparently detail visitations by peaceful aliens from different dimensions to a warning that "flying saucers" should not be attacked by the military. The rest of the video is, in short, a jumbled mess of unsubstantiated UFO claims, conspiracy theories and pure science fiction.
But at least they started with some cool NASA science. It's just a shame we're not really on the verge of a major alien discovery.